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Flying On The Edge Of Darkness

It was an odd sensation. I was flying home from a management training course at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, WA, a few weeks ago. I've flown transatlantic many times over the years, but on this occasion a precise conjunction of dates, flight path, and in flight entertainment put me, quite literally, in my own personal twilight zone.

It was an odd sensation.

I was flying home from a management training course at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, WA, a few weeks ago.

I've flown transatlantic many times over the years, but on this occasion a precise conjunction of dates, flight path, and in-flight entertainment put me, quite literally, in my own personal twilight zone.


I was sitting in my seat, watching a film called The Edge of Darkness, when I looked out of the window (for the first time in many years I had a window seat, but it was in the part of the plane where there's enough elbow room on either side that I didn't mind too much).

Down below me I could see frozen tundra, even though it was late June. I glanced at my watch and realised that it was 10pm in Seattle, 6am in the UK, so it must be about 2am wherever I was (probably Greenland!). The sky above us was a brilliant, clear, sunny, blue. Just above the horizon a pale moon was just rising (or perhaps setting). Below us, though, the ground quickly darkened. In the distance, the atmosphere became progressively inkier and not many miles away, it was deepest night-time.

On a hunch, I got up, scooted past the passenger in the aisle seat, and wandered over to the other side of the plane. The window in the galley area had no shade , and I saw that on that side it was bright daylight. In fact, the sun was low over the horizon and daylight was streaming in: that beautiful, golden glow you only get really early in the morning.

I realised that I was, quite literally, on the edge of darkness!

Then another thought struck me. We were flying eastwards, but the sun was on the left of the plane – the north – and night was on the right of the plane – the south. To someone raised in the northern hemisphere, that's not the way the world is supposed to work.

The sun is supposed to be south.

My world had, as they say, been turned upside down!

As consultants and coaches, clients often come to us when their world has been turned upside down. Indeed, if it hasn't, I consider it my JOB to turn their world upside down and shake things up a bit for them!

Now, however, I have somewhere to take them when I do that: to the edge of darkness.

It's that twilit region where they can see, on one side, the approaching gloom if they head back to the part of the world they're used to, back to their comfort zone, their grey zone. On the other side they can see a different reality, one they never even realised existed, and one where there is light and hope where they least expected to find it.

They just have to be willing to go the exact opposite way from what they're used to.

And so, as I sat suspended between the midnight sun to the north, and the depth of night to the south, I remembered the famous opening line from Rod Serling's classic TV series: "you are now entering the Twilight Zone. Anything could happen in the next half hour…"

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